Cape Town

19 November 2022 - 28 January 2023
Frida Orupabo
I've been here for days

STEVENSON is pleased to present I've been here for days by Frida Orupabo, the artist's first solo exhibition in Cape Town. 

Through new collage, sculpture and film, the artist explores social ‘invisibility’ and how the action of waiting forms part of Black life. Drawing from thinkers such as Toni Morrison and Kimberlé Crenshaw, she pays close attention to the intersectional experiences of Black women, offering images of assertion beyond erasure.

Set across three rooms of the gallery, I've been here for days features large-scale collages in various dimensions. The sculptures, seen here for the first time and exhibited as an installation are filled with wool and paper as an extension of the artist’s desire to make corporeal images. These ‘pillow collages’, made of panties, bras and soft toys, appear as items from a vanity chest; Orupabo terms them ‘objects closely linked to the body, personal experiences, living encounters and histories’.

In turn, the two-dimensional works forgo the enclosure of individual frames; the images that comprise each work are hung directly onto the wall to create a constellation of readings from which meanings can merge and overlap.

The source material for I've been here for days varies from vintage fashion shoots, colonial archives and canonical artworks to images of antiquated objects lifted from e-commerce sites. Depictions of women at rest, in battle and during care are interspersed with garments, organs and decorations, creating a lexicon of states, objects and gestures touched by history. Working independently and in tandem, Orupabo’s images are informed by a process of assemblage she recounts as ‘cropping, manipulating, putting images together, which forms new narratives, ways of seeing, and meaning.

The moving images and films – providing animated portrayals of Black life, spanning prejudice to actualisation – offer a counterpoint to the stasis of waiting. Through the archival footage of childbirth, testimonies of discrimination, expressions of creativity, displays of love, Orupabo offers a set of social artefacts that re-present a misrecognised community, highlighting both Black resilience and regeneration.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 19 November, 10am to 1pm. The gallery is open throughout the festive season except for public holidays.